Dow Closes at All-Time High As a Few Big-Name Retailers Make Waves

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

With limited major economic data being released today, but a few big movers, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) hit an all-time intraday record high at 15,750 before pulling back just slightly and closing up 128 points, or 0.82%, to finish at 15,746 -- itself an all-time record closing high. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq didn't have quite as good of a day, as the S&P rose 0.43% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.2%.

It was hard to find big winners today in the world of retail, but Ralph Lauren was one of them, and I highlighted why earlier today. I also noted why Fossil and Abercrombie were moving lower. Now let's look at one other winner of the day and two big losers.

The big retail winner of the session was eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY  ) , as shares rose 4.31% during the trading hours. There wasn't a whole lot of news pertaining to the company today, but trading volume spiked higher from the get-go this morning, when some very large orders rolled in before 11 a.m. ET, which is also when the stock price made the big jump. Typical trading volume for eBay is just over 9.6 million shares, and today more than 25.1 million shares traded hands.

Investors could be buying now with the hope that the company has a good holiday shopping season and a big fourth quarter in terms of sales and earnings. My colleague Tamara Rutter recently highlighted how the company is setting itself up to benefit from holiday shoppers this year and trying to attract the early buyers with special deals.

Two of the big losers today were Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) and -- surprise, surprise -- J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP  ) , which fell 5.33% and 7.34%, respectively. While on the surface it may seem these are two completely different business, they've essentially both had the same problem the past few years: They haven't been able to adapt to an ever-changing retail landscape, and they didn't react to the warning signs until it was too late. Online retailers such as Amazon.com have gutted Best Buy by offering cheaper prices and greater convenience. As for J.C. Penney, it stumbled when it took away coupons from customers who were already losing interest in what the retailer had to offer.

It's going to be a long and rough road to win back those customers for J.C. Penney, and most investors should watch from the sidelines. Regardless of what you think about Best Buy's stock performance year to date, it still has a long way to go to turn itself around and prove to consumers that they can still get a pleasant and informative shopping experience without sacrificing anything. Until it can do that, revenue and earnings will continue to be rocky, and the stock-price movements will turn your stomach.

A deeper Foolish perspective
To learn about two retailers with especially good prospects, take a look at The Motley Fool's special free report: "The Death of Wal-Mart: The Real Cash Kings Changing the Face of Retail." In it, you'll see how these two cash kings are able to consistently outperform and how they're planning to ride the waves of retail's changing tide. You can access it by clicking here.


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